The doping dramas continue with more athletes testing positive
A Kenyan runner and a Ukrainian shotputter are among the latest athletes to be banned from the Games after positive doping tests. Simon Kemble, part of Kenya’s 4 x 400 relay team, and Oleksandr Bagach from the Ukraine will not be allowed to compete in the Games.
Meanwhile, one of the Romanian weightlifters already booted out of the Games has gone missing. Traian Ciharean has been banned for life for an anti-doping offence and was supposed to fly out of Sydney on a flight booked by the International Olympic Committee.
He left the Athletes Village but hasn’t been seen since, with team officials trying to track him down as soon as possible.
A cult hero is born in Eric Moussambani
The Olympics is always about the highest, fastest and strongest but the wonderful thing about the Games are the characters that capture our hearts for other reasons. And on that note, I introduce Eric Moussambani, who has just brought the crowd at the pool to their feet for the opposite reason.
The 22-year-old student from Equatorial Guinea took 1:52.72s to complete the 100m freestyle. At times he didn’t look like he’d make it to the wall at all. For context, that is more than double Michael Klim’s recent world record of 48.18s.
He said he only began swimming in January and was his nation’s flag bearer at the Opening Ceremony. His only access to a pool is a 20m version in a tourist hotel, so he is frequently locked out while it’s being used.
“I have never swum 100m before. I thought it was too much … but I made it,” he said via an interpreter. What a legend – in sport we look for heroes but I get the feeling this guy will be one of the most memorable names of these entire Games.
Giddy up! Gold at the equestrian! They’ve done it again!
It’s official … that’s the three-peat for Australia’s unstoppable three-day eventing team. After gold in 1992 and 1996, surely they couldn’t go back to back to back? Of course they could, with the team of Phillip Dutton, Andrew Hoy, Matt Ryan and Stuart Tinney outlasting a surge from Great Britain to triumph once more.
“It’s better than Atlanta,” Dutton declared. “The crowd was amazing. I never expected it to be like this.”
That crowd would include none other than the Prime Minister, John Howard, Princess Anne and Chelsea Clinton.
Hoy now equals Dawn Fraser in having won gold in the same event in three consecutive Games, and was in his fifth Olympics. He still has the individual three-day event to go but has already etched his name in Australian Olympic folklore.
Not so good news from the football, however …
It’s the end of the road for both the Matildas and the Olyroos, who are both out of the Olympics.
The Olyroos ended a difficult tournament with a deflating 2-1 loss to Honduras at the Sydney Football Stadium. They had three outings for three defeats at their home Games, which will no doubt leave a mark when they look back on the event in coming years.
Poor defending was again at fault, as per the excellent analysis of our man on the ground Michael Cockerill, with the Olyroos left to chase the game again as they tried to scramble a win.
It was a similar story for the Matildas, who needed to beat Brazil to have any chance of advancing to the semi-finals. Alas, the football giants conjured a 2-1 win over the Australians to survive, while the Matildas were left to stew over what could have been.
A brilliant goal to Sunni Hughes gave the Matildas the lead, and they dominated in the period before and after the half-time break. But Brazil were composed in the finish and scored two goals in 10 minutes.
Draws the order of the day at the hockey
Both the Hockeyroos and the Kookaburras finished level with their opponents as the hockey tournament continued at Homebush.
Goals have been at a premium for the Hockeyroos and that continued to be the case as they drew 1-1 with Spain. They had their chances but an inability to convert in front of goal cost them. That needs to improve as the Games progress.
The Australians had 21 shots at goal to three but were still unable to get the win, with coach Ric Charlesworth bemoaning the defensive nature of the contest.
The Kookaburras ended their day locked 2-2 after an epic encounter with India. The Indians scored after just 40 seconds but the Australians regained their composure to score through Jay Stacey. Craig Victory ensured it would end in a tie with a second goal.
Fairweather remains on target at the archery
Four-time Olympian Simon Fairweather is alive and kicking in the archery but has the daunting task of winning four sudden-death matches if he is to salute in front of his home fans at Homebush.
Fairweather was in good form today, beating Juan Carlos Stevens from Cuba and adding the scalp of world No.12, France’s Jocelyn de Grandis, in the afternoon.
He will step out in the round of 16 tomorrow to face Korean star and gold medal favourite Jang Yong-Ho. Jang set an Olympic record of 172 in an 18-arrow match.
Boomers go bust
It wasn’t pretty for the Australians on the hardwood against the powerful Yugoslavians. They lost by 16 to the reigning world basketball champions and there was no lack of passion and fire, with Shane Heal and Chris Anstey both involved in some heated confrontations.
But Yugoslavia had the last laugh on the scoreboard, with Boomers skipper Andrew Gaze disappointed but still hopeful of a spot in the finals. They made the bronze play-off in Atlanta four years ago and are still in search of their first Olympic medal.
More relay gold in the pool!
There was no grandstand finish, as there was in the 4 x 100m freestyle relay on night one. Instead, this was a masterclass, pure and simple, as the Australian men romped away with the 4 x 200m freestyle relay at the Olympic pool.
The quartet of Ian Thorpe, Michael Klim, Bill Kirby and Todd Pearson clocked a world record as they trounced the second- and third-placed Americans and Dutch by five seconds.
Thorpe and Klim were the headliners but it was a special night for Pearson, who missed the final of the 100m relay after just missing out to Ashley Callus in the heats. He made up for lost time to swim a strong leg to ensure Advance Australia Fair rang out once more.
Madame Butterfly in the new freestyle Queen
Susie O’Neill has held off the challengers in a powerhouse performance to take gold in the final of the 200m freestyle. Known for her butterfly, O’Neill ensured she would leave the Games with at least one gold after gritting her teeth and forging to the wall despite the lactic acid surging through her arms.
“Thank god it’s all over, what a relief,” O’Neill said. “I’m pleased to get that out of the way to concentrate on everything else.”
For a star like O’Neill, it was just another race, but for the fans in the stands and around the nation, it was further proof she is one of our golden greats. She has her pet 200m butterfly still to come.